HBO brings WWII veterans to memorial in DC

March 11, 2010

WASHINGTON -- Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Elizabeth Dole welcomed 250 veterans to the World War II memorial Thursday to honor their service and introduce a TV miniseries on the battles of the Pacific.

HBO and a nonprofit group brought the veterans to Washington to mark the premiere of a 10-part series called "The Pacific." It begins Sunday and focuses on the lives of U.S. Marines fighting the Japanese after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The project follows the "Band of Brothers" series in 2001, which focused on the war in Europe.

"We did it because all of you are the greatest stories ever told," Spielberg told the veterans. Such movies and TV series are critical, he said, because "with each passing generation, more and more people are forgetting about World War II."

Hanks said ordinary Americans hate going to war, but they made the difference in World War II.

"You defined peace with these four words: The Americans are here," he told the veterans.

A decade earlier, Hanks raised money to build the memorial on the National Mall. It opened in 2004 and features pillars for the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of war.

Fred Rose, 87, of Barberton, Ohio, made his first visit to the granite memorial for the event. He said the monument was "wonderful" and nearly cried after hearing accolades from Spielberg, Hanks and others.

At one point in the war, Rose's tank was sunk in the first wave of an attack, and the young soldier lost his helmet and other equipment.

"My buddies got killed," he said. "But I got out. I don't know how. ... I must have had a guardian angel."

Dole stood in for her husband, former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, a World War II veteran hospitalized with pneumonia. She saluted the work of the Honor Flight Network, which brings World War II veterans to Washington to see the memorial built in their honor.

By Rett Zongker

Source : Associated Press